In her first tournament of the season, South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna took a commanding lead after completing her short program on Friday at the 2013 Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia.
Kim performed her new program to the tune of “Send in the Clowns” by Stephen Sondheim, scoring 73.37 to finish ahead of Japanese star Miki Ando, who came in at second with 62.81. Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova finished with 68.38 at third.
Winning the Golden Spin will further establish Kim’s position as the heavy favorite to win the ladies’ single in figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, next February. Continue Reading »
South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna donated $100,000 Wednesday to help the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines, according to UNICEF.
Donations from Kim, UNICEF’s international ambassador, will provide aid to those affected by the deadly Typhoon Haiyan which reportedly killed more than 2,000 people and injured thousands. Kim was made a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in July 2010 and donated the prize money from her second-place finish at the world championships in 2011 to tsunami victims in Japan and gave $93,700 to victims of the earthquake in Haiti six months earlier.
The 23-year-old also makes annual donations to underprivileged children in her native South Korea. Continue Reading »
Fewer North Koreans fleeing to South Korea, U.N. rights envoy says
Marzuki Darusman, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation in North Korea, said that in the first nine months of this year 1,041 North Koreans arrived in South Korea, compared to 1,509 people for all of 2012 and 2,706 people in 2011.
“This represents a reversal of the trend of steady increase in the number of annual arrivals since 1998, possibly due to recently tightened border control and increased incidents of refoulement,” Darusman wrote in a statement presented to a U.N. General Assembly human rights committee.
Darusman said the international law principle of non-refoulement – an obligation not to return asylum seekers or refugees to a place where their life or liberty would be at risk – clearly applies to North Koreans who have left without permission.
North Korea Bars Defector-Turned-Lawmaker From Kaesong
Wall Street Journal
A group of South Korean lawmakers who handle inter-Korean affairs made a rare visit to the jointly-run industrial park inside North Korea on Wednesday but left behind a colleague that Pyongyang singled out as unacceptable.
North Korea said last week that Cho Myong-chol, a member of the National Assembly’s foreign affairs and unification committee, couldn’t come into the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The North didn’t specify why, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.
The reason was clear for all, however: Mr. Cho is a rare defector from Pyongyang’s upper echelon and now a prominent North Korea expert in the South. He became a lawmaker last year.
U.S. Promises to ‘Review’ Snooping on Korean Embassy
The U.S. government promised Korea to “review intelligence activities” after Seoul asked whether the National Security Agency wiretapped the Korean Embassy in Washington. This is seen as tantamount to an admission that it did.
“Seoul had demanded that Washington verify rumors about wiretapping and make its position clear,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tae-young said Tuesday. “The U.S. has said it understands allies’ worries and promised to review intelligence activities.”
Cho neither confirmed nor denied that this was an admission that wiretapping occurred but merely said, “It’s up to the U.S. to answer the question concerning the interpretation of the words.”
As Power Line Grows, So Does Fight Between Ancient and Modern Korea
New York Times
The traditional farming villages within Miryang city, like so many in South Korea, are nestled against forested mountains. Rice paddies spill out into the valley, and persimmon and apple orchards line the roads.
Wooden farmhouses with their tile roofs were replaced long ago with concrete homes, but the rituals of a more ancient Korea remain. The farmers plan their lives around the growing seasons, and when they die, they are buried in plots that dot the mountainsides.
Now, a more modern Korea — in the form of imposing electrical power lines — is encroaching on the villages, including their burial grounds. The villages lie in the path of a major transmission route expected to distribute nuclear-generated electricity. Already towers are built along the spines of some nearby mountains, and 50 more are scheduled to be built in Miryang, some of them in the mountains.
Aging to Challenge South Korea’s Economic Transformation
South Korea has one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, but one looming roadblock threatens its path to becoming an international powerhouse: a rapidly aging population.
According to a report by the Korea Statistical Office, the number of people aged 65 and above has surpassed 6 million for the first time, accounting for 11.7 percent of the population. What’s more, the ratio of senior citizens to working age people – currently 1 to 6 – is projected to shift to 1 to 1.5 by 2050.
“The aging population is one of the most fundamental, structural shifts happening in Korea and affecting the growth prospects for the country,” said Wonsik Choi, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company in Seoul. “Just to give you an example, the working age population in Korea will peak at 37 million in 2016, three years from now and will diminish thereafter,” Choi added.
Education in Korea Class Struggle
AS THIS week’s special report on the Koreas points out, South Korea’s education system is both inspiring and intimidating. The country’s 15-year-olds ranked fourth in science (excluding Shanghai and Hong Kong), second in maths and first in reading in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Its youngsters (aged between 16 and 24) did equally well in the OECD’s international survey of adult skills, released this month.
But South Korea’s enthusiasm for education has also been likened to a “fever”. Students spend long hours in hagwon, private cram schools, trying to outdo their peers in crucial exams and tests that have lasting consequences for their subsequent careers. In principle these tests are simply a measuring device, allowing universities and employers to rank students according to their underlying abilities. But the measure is fair only if everyone spends the same amount of time preparing for them. If one student spends his every waking hour (and some half-waking ones) preparing, then everyone else has to do the same, if they are to preserve their position in the rankings. Some of this competitive swotting no doubt improves students’ knowledge and abilities, to the benefit of society and themselves. But some of it is also a socially wasteful zero-sum game.
Professor Preserving Legacy of Emigrants
Korea Times US
A photo exhibition featuring the lives of early Korean emigrants overseas opened Tuesday at Kim Dae-jung Convention Center located in the southwestern city of Gwangju.
Professor Lim Chae-wan of Chonnam National University, who has been researching the Korean Diaspora overseas since 1991, organized the photo presentation project.
“I felt the urge to hold such an event as plenty of valuable, historic photos showing the developments of Korean Diaspora were stuck in a library and my research room. While databasing these materials, my colleague and I concluded that a photo exhibition could be a powerful presentation to show how early emigrants had lived in foreign lands,” Lim said during an interview.
Man in Wheelchair is Killed near Long Beach Intersection
Patch.com (Long Beach, Calif.)
A man in a wheelchair was killed Tuesday after he likely unexpectedly crossed in front of a motorist and was struck by the vehicle, Long Beach Police said today.
The crash was reported at 6:47 a.m. near the intersection of Orange and Alamitos avenues. Authorities identified the pedestrian as Bong Kim, 72, of Long Beach. He was a native of Korea, officials said.
Responding officers found Kim in the northbound lanes of Alamitos Avenue, according to a news release. Officers rendered medical aid until Long Beach Fire Department personnel arrived.
Woman dies after cosmetic surgery
A 22-year-old woman who had been in a coma for nine days after a cosmetic surgery procedure died Saturday, police in Busan said.
The college student only identified by her last name Kim received facial bone contouring surgery for more than five and a half hours on Oct. 7.
She was found unconscious by a nurse in the hospital’s recovery room that evening and immediately moved to a nearby general hospital.
Crackdown Needed on Substandard Plastic Surgeons
A 22-year-old university student died Saturday nine days after she underwent a bimaxillary or corrective jaw surgery in a cosmetic surgery clinic in Busan. In June this year, a woman in her 30s died a month after undergoing the same procedure in the hope of looking prettier.
Corrective jaw surgery is an extremely difficult procedure under full anesthesia that involves the use of surgical drills to carve away at bones, carefully avoiding muscles and nerves in the face.
The procedure was originally developed to treat patients with congenital defects that make it difficult for them to chew properly. But it has found more lucrative uses for people who want a slimmer jawline to conform to current ideals of beauty.
Musical move for Hangover star Ken Jeong?
London Standard (U.K.)
He is one of Hollywood’s best-loved comic stars, known for his outrageous humour. Now Ken Jeong has revealed he would like a new challenge — appearing in a West End musical.
The 44-year-old actor, best known as Mr Chow in The Hangover trilogy, was a doctor before getting his big break in 2007 comedy Knocked Up after doing stand-up in the evenings.
He told the Standard: “When I was in college, theatre was what I wanted to do.
Choi Division: Roy Choi, L.A.’s Street-Food King
New York Times
The Los Angeles chef and restaurateur Roy Choi was once a gambler and nearly a gangster, and a stoner from youth who was quick to fight, slow to wake. Born in Korea in 1970, he came to California two years later and grew up amid the dangerous currents of immigrant possibility: at his parents’ liquor store in Koreatown, until it failed; at his parents’ restaurant in West Anaheim, until it failed; at his parents’ jewelry store in Orange County, which made his family rich.
He was surrounded by latchkey knuckleheads, smart kids with bad attitudes, Armenian gem dealers, drug connects, college students, dishwashers, too many card players. It was a chef’s education — hardly obvious at the time — because even as he gambled, fought and schemed, he ate, voraciously, from every larder in town. Nothing fancy. Quite the opposite: his parents’ hot pots; dinners of ketchup-fried rice and Del Taco takeout; pho and cheeseburgers; kimchi and milkshakes at dawn. It was a life of late nights.
Eugene Ahn, a.k.a Adam WarRock, is used to being an outsider.
Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, he was a “loner” caught between black and white in a region where racial tension is not uncommon. As a litigation lawyer with an Emory University degree, he was itching to get back to the music that inspired him.
It’s what one does with that angst that matters, believes Ahn. “I grew up pissed at the world,” he sings on his new album, “The Middle of Nowhere,” available Tuesday. “Now I put that (expletive) inside every MP3.”
Crayon Pop’s Unusual Road to Success Draws Media Interest
British weekly magazine the Economist published an article highlighting K-pop girl band Crayon Pop in its latest issue, which hit newsstands on Saturday.
As part of a 14-page special report on Korea, it wrote, “Crayon Pop are not a typical K-pop outfit. They look goofy rather than glamorous, like kid sisters not dream dates, and prefer plimsolls to stilettos.”
The success story of Crayon Pop’s song “Bar Bar Bar” was viewed as being different from that of other Korean girl groups. It “spread like a virus on YouTube,” the magazine wrote. “Whereas most songs peak early in the charts, then disappear, this one climbed to number one in some rankings months after its release.”
Samsung: We’re Too Big to Ignore
Wall Street Journal
At its first U.S. developer conference this week, Samsung Electronics005930.SE +0.67% had a message for Silicon Valley: We’re just too big to ignore.
Before some 1,300 software engineers and developers packed inside a San Francisco hotel ballroom, the Korean electronics giant trotted out a parade of executives and partners who introduced new tools to connect software with Samsung’s mobile devices and televisions.
Several executives came armed with statistics. Curtis Sasaki, a senior vice president of Samsung’s content and services business, noted that Samsung sold two televisions every second -– or some 7,200 by the end of the keynote. His message: stick with us — and our scale — if you want to reach customers.
Ice queen Yuna hones routines ahead of Sochi swan song
Informed she has taken a Korean Olympic Committee official’s seat by mistake, and her place is actually at the rear of the stage, the Vancouver Games gold medalist stifles an embarrassed smile and retreats to sit among her figure skating cohorts.
It might be the first time Kim has ever taken a back seat to anyone in South Korea.
With Wednesday marking the 100-day countdown to the start of the Sochi Games, the 23-year-old told reporters she was back skating and even doing jumps after taking time off to recover from a foot injury.
Kim, who blew away the competition in Vancouver to become the first South Korean to win an Olympic figure skating gold medal, said she was about “70 percent ready” and that she could return to competition in December.
Minnesota Twins keep tabs on Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon
St. Paul Pioneer Press (Minn.)
Whether the Twins make a strong play for Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon remains to be seen.
What seems clear is that Yoon, an international free agent represented by powerful agent Scott Boras, is on their radar.
“He’s got some talent,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said recently.
Mike Radcliff, Twins vice president for player personnel, added recently that the team was “fully engaged” in the Yoon process after watching him pitch numerous times in Korea and on the world stage at such events as the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic.
Olympic figure skating gold medalist Kim Yuna will miss two upcoming Grand Prix events due to a foot injury, according to news reports.
Kim first felt pain in her right foot during training last month, and recent test results showed she has an injured metatarsal, the Korea Skating Union said. She will be forced to sit out for six weeks before starting the rehabilitation process, which will likely take her out of the entire Grand Prix season.
The 23-year-old was scheduled to compete at Skate Canada at the end of October and then compete at Trophee Eric Bompard in November. The International Skating Union said she withdrew from both events due to the injury. Continue Reading »
S. Korea selects candidates for family reunions
AFP via Yahoo News
South Korea’s Red Cross on Saturday announced a list of 500 potential candidates for reunions next month with their North Korean relatives separated for decades by the 1950-53 Korean War.
The list, which was generated by a computer taking age and family background into account, was released a day after the two Koreas agreed to go ahead with the first family reunions in three years.
The reunion programme was suspended after the North’s shelling of a South Korean border island in November 2010, and its resumption marks a symbolic but important step.
Are North-South Reunions a Good Thing?
Wall Street Journal
With the announcement late Friday that the two Koreas would restart reunions for families split by the 1950-1953 Korean War, a select group of aging relatives on each side will once again be able to share memories with those they thought they might not see again.
There will also be renewed questions in the South over the limitations of the program, and how much the reunions help, or even hurt, families fractured by history.
Even hardened skeptics will allow that the meetings have some humanitarian value — at least, for those lucky few who come face to face with their kin.
U.S. rights envoy calls for N. Korea’s release of American
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
The United States human rights envoy for North Korea on Monday pressed for the release of a Korean-American detainee who has been held prisoner in the communist country for the last nine months.
Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen based in China, was traveling in North Korea in November when he was arrested by authorities on charges of trying to overthrow the communist regime. In April, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
“We’ve requested the North release Mr. Bae on humanitarian grounds. His health is suffering … We hope they will listen to our request,” Robert King told reporters in Seoul.
The envoy, however, refused to elaborate on whether or not the U.S. government has made any progress in its discussions with Pyongyang to win Bae’s release.
Former Torrance resident Kenneth Bae imprisoned in North Korea
Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)
At Torrance’s West High School he was known as Jun Ho Bae, a Korean immigrant active in the senior choir called Aristocracy, who had moved to the U.S. at age 16 with his family just two years before his 1988 graduation.
Today he’s better known as Kenneth Bae, a naturalized American citizen who operated a China-based tour company that would give foreigners glimpses of North Korea.
The 45-year-old father of three was detained in the reclusive, repressive nation last year and sentenced to 15 years hard labor in May for unspecified “crimes aimed to topple” the North Korean government.
Since then his younger sister, Terri Chung, who like her brother is now known by an Americanized first name, has campaigned for his release even as his health has deteriorated.
Eunhyang Kim’s journey to Boise State
Eunhyang Kim climbed silently through a mountain pass that flanks China’s southernmost border with Laos, fearing for her life and scared she would be stopped by Laotian or Chinese authorities at any moment.
“As I was crossing the mountain, I became very nervous, anxious and fearful because there were two elderly women, an 11 year old and an infant,” said Kim, through a translator.
The small group moved as quickly as the old women would allow, cradling the baby gently, their thoughts racing with the possibility of being spotted.
“If the infant cried in the middle of the night while we were crossing, there was a chance of getting exposed and arrested,” Kim said.
As an escapee from the North Korean government and current Boise State student, 18 year old Kim had already managed to illegally cross the northern border into China and travel through a vast swath of south eastern Asia in cars and small vans, heading toward Thailand and a chance at political asylum.
Korean pop fans get intimate with the music at KCON
Los Angeles Times
Alyssa Tolentino, 18, came all the way from Chicago to see the South Korean male pop group EXO perform in Los Angeles this weekend.
But before the show, she gave a performance of her own at the KCON convention Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Taking the stage during a midday talent contest, she donned a rubber horse mask and worked through dance moves she had picked up from a music video.
Afterward, out of breath and sweaty, she revealed her true dedication. “Today’s my move-in day for college, so I missed it,” she said. “But it’s worth it.”
That level of fandom from Tolentino, who was supposed to be starting her life as a film major at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, may seem extreme, but it’s typical among people at KCON, a convention for fans of the energetic and diverse sound and culture of Korean pop music, or K-pop.
N. Korea angry as Switzerland blocks ski lift deal
North Korea expressed anger Saturday after Switzerland blocked a deal to supply key equipment for a ski resort which has been under construction as one of leader Kim Jong-Un’s pet projects.
The Masik ski resort has been heavily promoted by the North’s propaganda machine since Kim visited it in June.
Kim wanted the facility — with 110 kilometres (70 miles) of multi-level ski runs, a hotel, heliport and cable cars — completed by the end of the year.
The North’s Skiers Association said Saturday that ski courses have already been built with a hotel and other facilities nearing completion.
But “some countries” are blocking the import of “cableway equipment” for the resort, it said in a statement.
Super-Sub Park Scores Equalizer for PSV
Park Ji-sung made a promising return to PSV Eindhoven on Saturday, scoring a late equalizer against Heracles Almelo to salvage a point for the Dutch club. It was his second match for PSV since moving there on loan this summer, and his 86th-minute leveler saw the game end 1-1.
A few days earlier on Tuesday, Park started for PSV in a UEFA Champions League playoff match against AC Milan, helping the team eke out a similar draw on his debut.
Saturday’s goal ended a long drought for Park, who had not found the back of the net since scoring for Queen’s Park Rangers in an FA Cup match against Liverpool on Jan. 28, 2012.
Ki Sung-yueng Reportedly Seeking to Leave Swansea City
Ki Sung-yueng is believed to be looking for a new club as he is growing tired of warming the bench for Swansea City in the English Premier League, the team he joined after parting ways with Scottish powerhouse Celtic in August last year.
He was apparently frustrated once again at not being part of Swansea’s 5-1 demolition of Romania’s Petrolul Ploiesti during their recent UEFA Champions League playoff game.
WalesOnline reported that Ki had “slipped down the pecking order” after coach Michael Laudrup acquired Jonjo Shelvey and José Cañas this summer. It added that Ki may be heading to rival EPL outfit Sunderland on a one-year loan deal, where he would join compatriot Ji Dong-won.
Kim Yu-na announces new programs for upcoming season
Two-time world figure skating champion Kim Yu-na on Monday announced her new programs for the upcoming season.
Through her Seoul-based agency, All That Sports, Kim said she will perform her short program to “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad composed by Stephen Sondehim for the 1973 musical, “A Little Night Music.” Her free skate will be choreographed to the tune of “Adios Nonino,” written by Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla in 1959.
Kim is slated to compete in two Grand Prix events hosted by the International Skating Union (ISU) in October and November, and she will try to defend her Olympic gold medal at the Sochi Winter Games in February next year.
Kim, who sat out the entire 2011-2012 season while mulling over her future, has already said the 2013-2014 season will be her last one.
Meet Duke Freshman Seo-In Kim
With the 2013 men’s soccer season just five days away, GoDuke.com is catching up with all of the newcomers to learn a little bit more about them. First up was freshman midfielder Seo-In Kim, who registered a goalazo against Old Dominion in the final exhibition game this past Friday.
GoDuke.com: Who is your favorite player to watch of all time?
Seo-In Kim: Ronaldinho. Because he has such creativity and when he goes out there it doesn’t look like he’s doing a job, he looks like he’s having so much fun so I admire that.
What is your most memorable World Cup moment?
Definitely has to be 2002 when the World Cup was hosted in Korea. That is my home country and when they made it to the semifinals that was something incredible for my country.
The Origins of “gook”
I was walking down the streets of downtown Seattle with a friend the other day when I heard the word “gook” directed at me for the first time in many years. A small group of young Black men were standing by the wall. As far as I could tell, one of them was on some confused, pseudo-Black nationalist diatribe while another was videotaping him. As we walked by, he shouted, “…Death to whitey! …And to all gooks too!”
After about half a stride, I looked back at him, and we made eye contact for one moment – one seemingly infinite moment, pregnant with rage from within each of us at lives lost from racism, lives lost from war, and all the racial history that our locking of eyes in that moment encompassed.
When I turned back to my friend, she asked me, “What’s gook?” She was visiting from Mexico and had no context for the word. I answered, “It’s a very bad slur for people who look like me.” She remarked at how calm I had remained, to which I said that it wasn’t worth a fight; I just wanted him to know that I’d heard him. And then we went on about our day.
But of course, I thought about it for a long time afterward. Ironically, I had just reread a piece by David Roediger on the history of the word “gook” while preparing to write this exact post about that exact word, as a way to talk about race and imperialism. I guess the universe really does give you what you need.